Global Partners, LP will soon switch from exporting ethanol to exporting renewable diesel. Global owns the Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery at Port Westward in Clatskanie.
During a meeting of the Port of Columbia County on Feb. 12, Global Presdent and CEO Eric Slifka said he will soon ask the port for a lease amendment to move from exporting ethanol products at Port Westward to exporting renewable, or “green” diesel.
Port public relations representative Gina Sisco said the port had no further information about when the change by Global would occur.
“Renewable diesel is a fuel that is chemically similar to petroleum diesel, but 100% renewable and sustainable,” the port wrote in a statement.
The change will result in Global sending shorter trains of about 40 cars to Port Westward at more frequent intervals, instead of their current trains of more than 100 cars, according to Catie Kerns, Vice President of External Communications for Global Partners, LP. Global is switching fully from ethanol to renewable diesel, but will continue to move the same quantity of fuel.
There will be a public open house in March to outline more details about the move, according to Kerns. The time, date and location of the public open house is pending.
Before the change by Global can happen, two different permits will need to be modified. The port must approve allowing a modification of Global’s existing lease in order to allow renewable diesel, and Global must modify its permit through the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to allow for renewable diesel.
“We’re working with the state right now to try to find what that looks like,” Kerns said. “The product itself is actually currently lower than the products we’re already approved for, so we’re expecting it to be a somewhat simple process.”
Kerns said renewable diesel is likely safer than ethanol.
“The constituents of renewable diesel are actually very similar to diesel, it takes a lot more to make the product combust,” Kerns said. “In theory the product should be safer. We’re really working on vetting out this information over the next couple of weeks and making sure we have good answers for the public.”
Kerns said Global is the moving toward renewable diesel in place of ethanol due to the current diesel market and customer demand. There is a big demand for renewable diesel on the market right now, especially on the West Coast, according to Kerns. Additionally, Global Partners is a logistics provider – a company that provides management over the flow of goods and materials between points of origin to end-use destination, and was asked by a client to receive, store and ship the product.
“Ethanol is a renewable fuel, but renewable diesel is the next step and we’re just proud to be part of that opportunity,” Kerns said.
Global Partners, LP came under fire in December of 2018 when the port voted unanimously to approve an amendment to the company’s lease agreement to allow the company to work with heavier grades of crude oil. The environmental watchdog group, Columbia Riverkeeper, criticized the amendment change as being unsafe.
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